Title

Paul Ernest's Social Constructivist Philosophy of Mathematics Education

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Abstract

The main focus of this project is to critically analyze Ernest's philosophy of mathematics education and his conceptions of mathematical knowledge and democratic education. Specifically, I use textual analysis to interpret what he intends for each group of students and to critically analyze the conceptions of mathematical knowledge and democratic citizenship implicit in each set of recommendations. I examine whether these conceptions are consistent with each other and with his philosophy of mathematics education. I argue that while Ernest's general conceptions of mathematical knowledge and democratic citizenship are similar for these two groups, he views mathematicians as producers of mathematical knowledge and the general public as users of this knowledge. This characterization seems to place research mathematicians in a privileged position. Finally, I explore the implications of Ernest's framework for developmental mathematics at the community college level. I discuss what his view would contribute to conversations about educational opportunity, and I use specific examples to illustrate how this framework might be used to evaluate policy and practice in this context.